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Scandals Bring Down D.C. Public School Chancellor

Tests on desks in empty classroom

Earlier this week, Antwan Wilson resigned his position as chancellor of the Washington, D.C., public school system. He did so after it was revealed that his daughter jumped the over 600 names on the waiting list to enter one of D.C.'s top performing high schools.

Rife with corruption and scandal, the public school system in our nation's capital continues to justify the decision my wife and I made to live in Arlington, Virginia. Though it's an annoying hotbed of progressivism, Arlington at least has an excellent school system. The public schools that my kids attend are among the best in the nation. And that is what helps tip the scales in favor of which side of the Potomac we live on. In fact, when we first moved here, we looked at D.C.'s public schools and emphatically said, "nope!"

Antwan Wilson's scandal is simply another in a long list of laughable missteps by D.C.'s public schools. Or, rather, the missteps would be laughable if the education and well-being of children weren't involved. Because, as NPR points out,

This [current scandal] comes on the heels of another scandal involving D.C.'s public schools in which one-third of graduates last year received diplomas in violation of grading and attendance policies. An investigation revealing that information was ordered after an NPR and WAMU investigation showed widespread absenteeism among graduates of one D.C.'s neighborhood high schools.

While a father using his position and influence to help his child receive the best education possible may seem minor on the surface, Wilson was violating his own policy.

Last summer, after revelations that a previous chancellor, Kaya Henderson, had taken advantage of her position to help friends get their kids into the top D.C. school, Wilson took action. He implemented a policy last summer, "restricting the ability of the chancellor to grant such transfers to the children of public officials."

An article at D.C.'s local NPR station WAMU explains it well:

Wilson’s regulation goes even further in restricting what are known as “discretionary out of boundary transfers” than what Mayor Muriel Bowser  initially ordered in May, after it became public that the son of Deputy Mayor for Greater Economic Opportunity Courtney Snowden had been admitted to Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan, a highly sought-after elementary school, without going through the lottery.

Bowser said that government officials could still ask the chancellor for an out-of-boundary transfer, but would also have to seek approval from the D.C. Board of Ethics and Government Accountability. In a letter to D.C. Council member David Grosso (I-At Large) this week, however, Wilson made clear that his new policy would not even offer that sort of opportunity.

“No past or current public officials will receive such a placement, to limit any possibility of favoritism or improper use of public office for private gain, or even the appearance of favoritism,” Wilson wrote.